With the beginning of the 2016 golf season underway, I wanted to give you some information that will help our department with keeping Midland Hill’s golf course and driving range in great shape. Our department strives towards providing excellent conditions on a daily basis but there are some things that you can do to make an important impact. An impact that compounds as the season goes on that will show positive results that you and your guests will surely notice.
Driving Range Practice
Now that we are hitting balls from the grass tee, there is one crucial practice aspect that has a huge impact on the divot regrowth from shots. If you watch professional golf on the weekends, often they show players hitting shots on the driving range tee. Often you’ll see their divot pattern, which looks like a large patch, where they take all of the turf. in a box shape The picture below shows that “patch” in the upper right corner. Look directly below it (2 weeks later) and you’ll see the turf has yet to recover. This is because of several reasons. First, turf always generates quicker through regenerative abilities. With the patch, it has to grow from the outside in, 8″ wide x 12″ long. This takes a long time. Also, with a bare spot that large, when the mower head goes over that area, often times the head dips down into the patch and scalps out any new seedlings that have germinated (this also does damage to the cutting reels as they dull when mowing up sand). If you look to the upper left corner, you’ll see the preferred divot pattern which is in lines with a few inches of turf in between them. Now the turf only has to grow a few inches to cover the divots, the mower heads don’t dip in as there is turf to help hold it up and the mowers stay sharp. The bottom two pictures show a fairly significant difference in recovery. Throughout the golf season if the tee can regenerate quicker, you’ll be left with a better practice facility. Also over time, taking patches out of the tee will make the tee box un-level as they never regenerate to a completely flat surface. So don’t do like the professionals you see on TV on the weekends as they go from course to course, week to week and aren’t concerned what the range looks like come August after a season of practice.
I often get asked about divots. Should I replace them or should I use the sand/seed mix? It’s always best to replace your divot and step on it. Unless the divot is thinner than a piece of toast, the chance of that divot recovering and re-rooting to normal turf is much better than the divot mix germinating and filling it. Do you replace your divots on par 3s? We rarely see players do it, not sure if it’s out of habit but a tee box is no different from a fairway. If you can’t find your divot, then please do fill it with seed/soil mix. If you do fill it, please do not overfill it. Our mowers will only vacuum it up and become dull. Also, never fill a divot that is not in the fairway or on a tee. The seed is designed for short grass areas only and not meant for the roughs.
No one likes to putt over an unrepaired ballmark. If not repaired within a few hours, a ballmark can last up to several weeks as a brown depression on a green! They only take a few seconds to repair and fortunately for Midland, I see several players fix theirs and a few more. Again, I’m going to pick on golf professionals you see on TV (sorry Hanford!). Unfortunately they repair them the wrong way! If you look at the diagram below, if you use your tool to “pull up” the turf, you only tear the roots of the turf. Sure you’ll walk away from it and it will be smooth. A few days later it will start to die, turn brown, and create a depression. It’s almost worse fixing them this way than doing nothing at all. Always push inward from the outside of the ballmark, you can even twist a little at the same time to help push the surround turf to the middle of the ballmark. This will prevent tearing roots and you’ll be left with smoother and more consistent playing greens.
Some interesting stats that you might not have thought about on how unrepaired or improperly repaired ballmarks have an effect on your round and how your greens play/look:
- The average number of ballmarks made during a round of golf is 8 per golfer.
- If Midland averages 100 rounds in a day, that’s 800 per day.
- Over a month, that’s 24,800 ballmarks
- For a golf season at Midland, that’s just over 175,000 ballmarks!
Properly repairing your ballmarks has a significant impact on the quality of your golf course greens.
It would seem customary to your playing partners/peers to rake the bunker behind you. However, we spot rake or completely rake the bunkers daily. Not sure how, but we see on several occasions, unraked bunkers from shots or going to retrieve a golf ball.
Again, it only takes a few seconds to rake behind you, but properly raking the bunker is just as important. You will see the bunker rakes in the corners of the bunkers. This is so someone doesn’t have to walk all the way to the middle or the other side of the bunker to get a rake. This speeds up play and is convenient as a player. Always return the rake to the corner for the players behind you to enjoy that same convenience. When raking, don’t just pull sand back with you as you walk backward as it makes the sand uneven and creates a trough and brings too much sand to the edges. As you walk backwards, push the sand away from you, as this will keep the sand in it’s intended location. Raking sand up onto the grass faces also creates serious problems. If that sand gets wet, it gets watered into the turf and becomes extremely difficult to get out. Over time, this changes the function of the bunker as “lips” are created around the bottom of the bunker. That “lip” prevents balls from rolling down the face and into the sand, as the bunker architecture was designed. Our hover mowers that mow the bunker faces also scalp that “lip” which in turn creates an environment for thin turf, weed encroachment as well as it burns out the turf during hot stretches of weather. Below is a picture from yesterday on how not to rake behind you.
Everyone has seen the short green and white stakes on the edges of cartpaths. We use these to distribute traffic from carts. If we didn’t, you’d see dirt around the edges of them. If you see these stakes blocking an area off, please don’t drive through them. They’re usually blocking a wet area or an area that is stressed/damaged from previous cart traffic. We are fortunate enough to have cartpaths next to every tee and green. Please use them to park on, especially around greens where you are taking shots from the rough and you expect a good, consistent lie. Cart traffic around greens and bunkers should never happen as there is always a cartpath within several feet. You usually see a few stakes right next to the cartpath next to greens. This is to encourage you to park all four tires of your cart on the path. Again, if we didn’t have stakes out there, there would eventually be unsightly and unplayable dirt surrounding our paths.
We are starting to expand our native rough areas around the golf course. Several of these areas we’ve regressed to Fescue type turf. Our native areas are designed to reduce the labor, equipment and fuel inputs of maintaining over 80 acres of rough. They also create wildlife habitat, accentuate the lay of the land and improve the aesthetics of the property. Please keep your carts out of them, even if you hit your ball in them. The last thing we want to do is rope all of them off to keep them looking good and functioning. Once the native grass is at full season height, if you drive through them, it’s likely your cart tracks will stay there all season and the unsightly “flattened” look stays.
You can make a significant impact on the quality of the playing conditions and aesthetics of your range and course by helping our department and your fellow members. None of these things take much time or effort but their compounded effect throughout the golf season on your enjoyment of your course is undeniable.
It’s your course, help make it the best it can be!